AN OPEN THANK YOU LETTER TO ALL THE FOLKS THAT FUND THE ARTISTS IN THEIR LIVES
Being a filmmaker, or really any kind of an artist, is like being your family’s crack addict.
I am sensitive, not blind, so I see the dread in your eyes when I come around with a dream in my pocket and a request for a donation, because we both know that when I come around your wallet is going to take a beating. And as I fidget nervously, I know you know that I feel guilty asking for that last little bit, even if it is “just for color correction”, or “we are in festivals”, even I am a little unsure if this “will be the last time”, and that “yes we will one day make money”. It is frustrating for both of us. Especially in the start up phase (and yes all art projects are also start ups too!).
But what I can tell you is this: you are not funding a habit, you are investing in a possibility. A possibility with dangerous and wonderful consequences. And if anything, in times as uncertain and dark as now, possibility is exactly what we need to be addicted to.
We are urgent with our dreams, because it is an urgent time. We live now in a time where there is a huge crisis of imagination about the future direction of our planet. Suicide capitalism tells us there are no jobs, we don’t need health insurance, retirement, social security. Anything that would bring a quality of life and a middle class existence is seen now as a luxury and an entitlement in the face of “austerity measures”, even as the wall street bankers get golden parachutes for tanking the global economy.
Artists, however, can get right in the middle of that crisis and argue for parallels (not alternatives) to that suicide capitalism that is holding our communities hostage. Artists and the art they make is the first line of defense in the fight for our imagination. Because, ultimately, how can we begin to fight for freedom when we cannot imagine ourselves to be free? In fact, it is precisely in times like this that we need more dreamers.
Nina Simone in this interview below,
when speaking about her civil rights legacy said that artists have the duty to speak to their times. We as a society need artists and their ability to interpret the facts, as dark as they may be, to have an emotional connection to the reality of where we are, so that we can find our possibilities from that place with our whole selves, not just with our minds, but with bodies, our spirits, and most importantly with our hearts.
When we tap into our network of friends and families for support and investment, we are asking you to join us in dreaming. And in dreaming together, we can all make the world a different place. So yes, I most definitely will be coming around again to ask you for a donation, but know that I’ve got a dream of a just future to give back to you!
(Dedicated to all the artists I have known and loved for their commitment to dreaming collectively, and the families and friends that dream with them)